The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Kings
And now the Philistines mustered their army for battle, and raised their standard at Socho, in Juda, encamping between Socho and Azeca, in the region of Dommim.
Saul, too, mustered the Israelites, and they marched to the Valley of the Terebinth, where they drew up their array to meet the enemy;
the Philistines held the mountain-slope on one side, and Israel on the other, with the valley between them.
And the Philistines had a champion, a bastard born,✻ that was called Goliath of Geth. His height was six cubits and a span;
he wore a helmet of bronze and a breastplate of mail, this too made of bronze, and weighing five thousand sicles;
greaves of bronze on his legs, and a shield of bronze to guard his shoulders.
As for his spear, it had a shaft as big as a weaver’s beam, with an iron head that weighed six hundred sicles; and a man went before to carry his armour for him.
Such a man confronted the ranks of Israel, crying out, What need to come here armed for battle? Here am I, a Philistine born; do you, that wear Saul’s livery, choose out one of yourselves to meet me in single combat.
If he is a match for me, and can strike me down, we will accept your rule; if I have the mastery, and he falls, you shall accept Philistine rule, and become our subjects instead.
Here and now, I set the host of Israel at defiance (said the Philistine); let them put forward a champion that will fight hand to hand with me.
Terror fell upon Saul and all the men of Israel as they listened to the challenge, and their hearts failed them.
Now turn we to David, son of that Ephrathite of whom we spoke but now. This man, Jesse of Bethlehem-Juda, was father of eight sons, and in Saul’s reign he was well on in years, and passed for an old man.
Three of his sons, the eldest, had gone to the wars with king Saul; three warrior sons, the first-born Eliab, and Abinadab, and Samma.
David was the youngest; and when his three eldest brothers went into Saul’s service,
he left it, and must go home to tend his father’s flock at Bethlehem.
When the Philistine had already been coming out from the ranks and confronting the Israelites for forty days together,
it chanced that Jesse sent his son David on an errand. Here is a bushel of flour, said he, and ten loaves; take them with all speed to thy brethren in the camp;
ay, and ten cheeses to be a present for their commander. Go and look for thy brethren, to see that all is well with them, and find out what their place is in the ranks.
It was in the Valley of the Terebinth he must find them, where they were carrying arms with Saul and all the men of Israel;
so David rose early, leaving a man in charge of the flock, and went off with his load, to do his father’s bidding. When he reached Magala, the army had raised its war-cry and gone out to fight;
Israel was now marshalled for battle, and the Philistines awaited them.
So David left all the gifts he had brought with him in the care of the baggage-master, and ran to the field of battle, to ask how his brethren fared.
Even as he spoke, out came the champion of the Philistine cause, Goliath, the bastard of Geth; and David heard him repeat his customary challenge.
All the men of Israel were shrinking away in terror from the sight of him;
and the talk went round among them, Saw you this warrior that went by? He has challenged Israel; and great good fortune awaits the man who overcomes him. The king has promised such a man great riches, and his daughter’s hand in marriage, and for his father’s house, freedom from every tax levied in Israel.
And now here was David asking, What reward is there for saving Israel’s honour, by overcoming the Philistines? What, shall an uncircumcised Philistine defy the armies of the living God?
So they repeated to him the tale of what the reward should be.
When his elder brother Eliab overheard the talk, he turned upon David in anger; Why hast thou come here? he asked. Why must that sorry flock of thine go astray in the desert? This is thy old self-conceit, thy old cunning; thou hast come here only to watch the battle!
Why, what wrong have I done? David asked. Is there not matter here for questioning?
Then, passing on a little beyond him, he spoke to another man, using the same words, and folk gave him the same answer as before.
What David had said was soon noised abroad, till it came to the ears of Saul;
and he was summoned ere long into Saul’s presence. There is nothing here, he said, to daunt any man’s spirits; I, my lord, will go and do battle with the Philistine.
What, answered Saul, thou meet the Philistine and engage him in battle? Why, thou art only a boy, and this is a man trained to arms from his youth.
But David told Saul, My lord, I used to feed my father’s flock; and if lion or bear came and carried off one of my rams,
I would go in pursuit, and get the mastery, and snatch the prey from their jaws. Did they threaten me, I would catch them by the throat and strangle them; that was my way of killing them.
Lion or bear, my lord, I would slay them, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall have no better lot than theirs. Let me go out and save the honour of Israel; shall an uncircumcised Philistine defy the army of the living God?
The Lord, said David, who protected me against lion and bear, will protect me against this Philistine.
Why then, said Saul, go, and the Lord be with thee.
Why then, said Saul, go, and the Lord be with thee.
Then he made David wear his own armour, put a helmet of bronze on his head, and a breastplate round him;
and David, as he girded on a sword over his armour, tried whether he had strength to walk in this unwonted array. Nay, he told Saul, I cannot walk, so clad; it was never my wont. So he disarmed,
and took nothing but the staff he ever carried, and five smooth stones, which he picked out from the river-bed and put in his shepherd’s wallet, and a sling in his hand; and so he went out to meet the Philistine.
The Philistine, with his armour-bearer going before him, came ever nearer on his way,
and looked at David with contempt; here was a boy, red-cheeked and fair of face.
What, he asked, dost thou take me for a dog, that thou comest to meet me with a staff? And he cursed David in the name of his gods.
Come close, he said; let me give thy carrion to bird and beast.
Nay, said David, though thou comest with sword and spear and shield to meet me, meet thee I will, in the name of the Lord of hosts; in the name of that God who fights for the armies of Israel.
Thou hast defied them this day, and this day the Lord will give me the mastery; I will strike thee down, and cut off thy head. I will feed bird and beast with the corpses of Philistine warriors, and prove to all the world that Israel has a God;
prove to all who stand about us that the Lord sends victory without the help of sword or spear. God rules the battle; he will put you at our mercy.
By now, the Philistine had bestirred himself, and was coming on to attack David at close quarters; so, without more ado, David ran towards the enemy’s lines, to meet him.
He felt in his wallet, took out one of the stones, and shot it from his sling, with a whirl so dexterous that it struck Goliath on his forehead; deep in his forehead the stone buried itself, and he fell, face downwards, to the earth.
Thus David overcame the Philistine with sling and stone, smote and slew him. No sword he bore of his own,
but he ran up and took the Philistine’s own sword from its sheath, where he lay, and with this slew him, cutting off his head. And now, seeing their champion dead, the Philistines betook themselves to flight;
while the men of Israel and of Juda rose up with a cry, and gave chase till they reached the low ground, and the very gates of Accaron; all the way to Geth and Accaron, along the road to Saraim, Philistines lay dying of their wounds.
At last the men of Israel returned from their pursuit, and fell to plundering the Philistine camp.
As for David, he brought Goliath’s head back with him to Jerusalem, and laid up the armour in his tent.
Saul, as he watched him going out to meet the Philistine, had asked the commander of his men, Abner, from what stock this boy came. On thy life, my lord, said Abner, I cannot tell.
So the king bade him find out who the boy’s father was;
and David fresh from his victory, was taken by Abner into Saul’s presence, still carrying the Philistine’s head with him.
And when Saul asked of his lineage, David told him, I am the son of thy servant Jesse, the Bethlehemite.✻
The Holy Bible